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Will Kacmarek (87) TE position on Ohio University's Football team catches the ball for a nice gain at Peden Stadium in Athens Ohio, Octo. 28, 2023

Football: Ohio defeats Buffalo 20-10 in bounce back win

At times in Ohio's 20-10 win over Buffalo, the team looked downright ugly. Despite this, the Bobcats will come back from Buffalo, accomplish what they set out to do and pick up a road win to keep its Mid-American Conference East Division hopes alive.

Ohio scored two first downs in the first half and 41 total yards. Although Ohio's defense allowed just three points in the first 30 minutes, Buffalo sustained three separate five-or-more-minute drives. Ohio's defense was tough enough to come up with a 4th and 1 stop on its 14-yard line and force a pair of field goal attempts once Buffalo got back into Ohio territory.

According to Linebacker Keye Thompson, Ohio needed to be poised to only allow three points despite being on the field for most of the first half.

"Our key focus each and every week is when we're on those long drives is to just stay poised," Thompson said. "We know we have to handle adversity, make a couple of checks to get off the field and get the ball back to Kurtis and the boys." 

Alex McNulty, the Buffalo kicker, connected on one of two field goals of 40+ yards to give the Bulls a 3-0 lead at halftime. Ohio's offense certainly didn't hold up its end of the bargain in the first half. Ohio's first two drives were doomed by negative plays or penalties. Ohio's third and final drive of the first half ended in a three-and-out after an unsuccessful screenplay.

The Bobcats had their first play in Bulls' territory when Sieh Bangura ran for a 25-yard gain on the second play out of halftime. After an 11-yard pass from Rourke, Bangura ran for 14 yards. Ohio got to Buffalo's three-yard line before settling for a game-tying field goal.

 Ohio's defense was put in a great position on the ensuing possession. Buffalo's return team made a slight mistake on a kick that stopped just short of the end zone; Ron Cook managed to get to his six-yard line before being tackled. Ohio's defense pulled off a quick three-and-out and gave Kurtis Rourke and the offense the ball at Buffalo's 38. Fifth-year receiver Tyler Walton made his presence felt with back-to-back receptions for a combined 23 yards.

Ohio marched down to the Buffalo two-yard line. The Bobcats had two chances on third-and-goal from the two; an unsuccessful wildcat play meant the team would need to convert on 4th and goal from the two. Bangura powered through the goal line for the game's first touchdown.

Buffalo was quick to halt Ohio's energy. On the next play from scrimmage, Cole Snyder found Darrell Harding Jr. for the game's longest play, 52 yards. CJ Ogbonna tied the game early in the fourth quarter with a two-yard touchdown. Ohio's offense looked nothing like the unit that only picked up two first downs in a half at this point in the game. Senior Running Back O'Shaan Allison ran for 43 yards as part of a 66-yard scoring drive. Gianni Spetic connected from 26 yards out to put Ohio back in front.

As the Bulls searched for their own answer, Senior linebacker Keye Thompson made the game's biggest play on third and fourth by forcing and recovering a fumble on Buffalo Quarterback Cole Snyder.

 Ohio used its strong run game to cash the turnover in for seven points. Sieh Bangura helped the Bobcats milk the clock and eventually score a touchdown to put Ohio up 20-10 with just 1:55 to go.

After a series of timeouts from both teams, Ohio's defense made the final stop to cement Ohio's 20-10 road win. 

Head Coach Tim Albin was proud of his team's response to a narrow halftime deficit against one of the MAC East's stronger opponents.

"I'm very proud (of the way we responded)," Albin said. "There could have been some finger-pointing at halftime, offensively no points and 13 plays (run), but there was not, there were just adjustments … I'm very proud of the guys for that."


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